The World Health Organization’s director-general on Monday warned that conditions remain ideal for more coronavirus variants to emerge and it’s dangerous to assume omicron is the last one or that “we are in the endgame.”
But Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the acute phase of the pandemic could still end this year if some key targets are met.
Tedros laid out an array of achievements and concerns in global health over issues like reducing tobacco use, fighting resistance to anti-microbial treatments, and risks of climate change on human health. But he said “ending the acute phase of the pandemic must remain our collective priority.”
“There are different scenarios for how the pandemic could play out and how the acute phase could end. But it’s dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant or that we are in the endgame,” Tedros told the start of a WHO executive board meeting this week. “On the contrary, globally, the conditions are ideal for more variants to emerge.”
But he insisted that “we can end COVID-19 as a global health emergency, and we can do it this year,” by reaching goals like WHO’s target to vaccinate 70% of the population of each country by the middle of this year, with a focus on people who are at the highest risk of COVID-19, and improving testing and sequencing rates to track the virus and its emerging variants more closely.